Yajur Veda in Sanskrit means 'wisdom of sacrificial formulas'.
This Veda compiled a century or two later than the Rig-Veda, contains
prose and verse formulas that were to be pronounced by the priests
performing the manual part of the sacrifice. It describes in prose the
procedural details of performing different rituals and Yajnas using the
hymns of the Rig Veda ( In the Vedic sacrifice a god or gods are invoked
by the hymns or mantras. Offerings of food, butter, or soma are prepared
and offered to the fire, which as an intermediary god, conveys these to
the other gods. ) This Veda is the most important text for the priests,
because it concerns itself with the correct performance of sacrifices.
The priests of this Veda are called Adhwaryus.
Agni, the fire god plays a central role in the sacrifice. With the
passage of time the sacrifice became increasingly elaborate, and priests
became highly skilled specialists. There were many different kinds of
sacrifices like the famous horse sacrifice, the soma sacrifice,
sacrifices performed during various ceremonies like the Coronation
ceremonies of kings, marriage ceremonies etc. Of them all the highest
sacrifice was considered to be the Sarvamedha in which the sacrificer
offered all of his possessions as the fee at the end of the ceremony.
The Yajur Veda seen by the outer vision is the Veda of ritual. On an
inner level, it sets forth a yogic practice for purifying the mind and
awakening the inner consciousness. While the lesser sacrifices win the
lesser worlds, the Self-sacrifice or the AtmaYajna wins all the worlds
and gains the greatest gift of immortality. Sri Chinmoy states:
Sacrifice is self-offering. Self-offering is self-fulfillment. Self-fulfillment
is love-manifestation and Truth-perfection. Through our outer sacrifice
we become a divine part of Mother-Earth. Through our inner sacrifice we
become an immortal part of Father-Heaven. We make the outer sacrifice
when we come out of the domain of binding desires and enter into the
domain of liberating aspiration. We make the inner sacrifice when we try
to manifest God in the world of ignorance after having achieved
God-realization. The outer sacrifice demands strength of a hero. The
inner sacrifice demands the power of an army. With our outer sacrifice
we see the Truth. With our inner sacrifice we become the Truth.?
There are two major branches of the Yajur Veda i.e. the Krishna
Yajurveda and the Shukla Yajurveda.
The Shukla Yajurveda is represented by the following recensions:
Hymns from the Yajur Veda
As fire, which is one, on entering creation, conforms its own form to
the form of each being, so also the One, the atman within all beings,
assumes all forms, yet exists outside. As the wind, which is one, on
entering creation, conforms its own form to the form of each being, so
also the One, the atman within all beings, assumes all forms, yet exists
outside. As the sun, the eye of the whole world, is not touched by
external blemishes seen by the eye, so the One, the atman within all
beings, is not touched by the sufferings of the world. He remains apart.
The One, the Controller, the atman within all beings, the One who makes
his own form manifold - the wise who perceive him established in
themselves attain - and no others - everlasting joy.
- Krishna Yajur Veda
He who lives in us as our guide, who is one, and yet appears in many
forms, in whom the hundred lights of heaven are one, in whom the Vedas
are one, in whom the priests are one - He is the spiritual atman within
- Krishna Yajur Veda